A question we often receive is, “What is the best live TV streaming service.” The answer to this question will vary based on the type of TV viewer. A sports fan will prefer a different streaming service than someone interested in entertainment channels. If you have an antenna, you may not be interested in streaming local channels. I’ve taken these concerns into account and put together a definitive ranking of which live streaming service is the best out of Hulu Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Philo, Vidgo, and DIRECTV Stream.
How Rankings Were Determined
The overall rank of each TV streaming service took the following measures into account:
Channel Lineup Strength – Many reviewers will list the number of channels a streaming service offers without considering the quality of channels. Instead, I did an in-depth analysis of each streaming services channel lineup and came up with a strength score based on the yearly viewership of each channel. The streaming service received a score between 1 and 5, with 5 being the highest based on how they ranked in this category against the other services. This measure makes up 25% of the streaming service’s overall score.
Channel Lineup Value – Using the channel analysis for channel lineup strength, we scored each service for value based on the monthly charge relative to how strong the lineup is. The streaming service received a score between 1 and 5, with 5 being the highest based on how they ranked in this category against the other services. Since value is important to cord-cutters, this measure is 30% of the streaming service’s overall score.
On-Demand Offering – This measure is scored between 1 and 5, with 5 being the highest based on a streaming service’s on-demand offering relatives to other streaming services. Since on-demand is typically how we watch TV, this measure makes up 25% of the streaming service’s overall score.
DVR Offering – This measure is scored between 1 and 5, with 5 being the highest based on a streaming service’s DVR relative to other streaming services. Since on-demand is typically how we watch TV, this measure makes up 10% of the streaming service’s overall score.
Number of Streams – This measure is scored between 1 and 5, with 5 being the highest based on the number of simultaneous streams a streaming service includes relative to other streaming services. Since on-demand is typically how we watch TV, this measure makes up 10% of the streaming service’s overall score.
Each measure only considers a specific channel package. Add-options are ignored as they typically drive the streaming service’s price up to high to make it a good value.
While the streaming services below are ranked there are three things to consider when you choice.
- Device Support: If you are using a Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Chromecast, then you can choose from any of the services we ranked, since all of them support those devices. While you can check the device support table, I’ve listed the devices below that will limit your choices.
- Samsung Smart TV: Not supported on Philo
- Vizio Smart TV: Only supports Hulu Live TV. Certain SmartCast TVs support YouTube TV, and Sling TV will cast to certain Vizios TVs. Hulu Live TV is your best option here.
- LG Smart TV: Not supported By DIRECTV Stream and Philo
- Xbox: Only supports Hulu Live TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV
- PlayStation: Only supports Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV
- Nintendo Switch: Only Supports Hulu Live TV
- Local Channels: If you want a streaming service with local broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, then your options are Hulu Live TV, fuboTV, DIRECTV Stream, and YouTube TV. Sling TV and Vidgo have very limited local channels, while Philo doesn’t have any. You can still consider those. Just know you will need a solution for local networks like a TV antenna.
- Regional Sports Networks: The Regional Sports Network (RSN) available are based on where you live, so it wouldn’t make sense to factor that into the scoring since most people only care about one specific regional sports network. For example, Bally Sports regional networks are only available through DIRECTV Stream on a streaming device. Therefore if you must have that RSN, then your only choice is DIRECTV Stream. If you have another specific RSN in mind, check this streaming service regional sports network chart to see which live TV streaming services you have to choose.
Live TV Streaming Service Ranking
Below are the Rankings for each live TV streaming service, their total overall score, and a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of their services.
#1. Hulu Live TV
Overall Score: 3.45
Price: $64.99 per month after a 1-week free trial.
Hulu Live TV takes our top spot by a nose. The service scored a 4 of 5 in channel lineup strength and a 3 out of 5 in DVR, channel lineup value, and # of streams. However, Hulu Live TV climbed to the top of the list on the strength of its perfect 5 out of 5 for its stellar on-demand offering. Not only does it match the on-demand offerings of all the other services but it goes way beyond the competition through the inclusion of its Hulu Streaming Library with its Live TV service. This massive catalog of TV Shows, Movies, and Original programming makes its On-Demand content unrivaled by any other live TV service.
Hulu has a strong channel offering include Hallmark Channel, History, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land, Paramount Network, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, FS1, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, ACC Network, A&E, Bravo, E!, HGTV, TBS, USA, TNT, TruTV and many more in Hulu Live TV’s Channel Lineup.
Hulu live TV also includes:
- Offers over 60 broadcast and cable-based channels
- Live stream of local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in nearly all markets
- The basic package comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR storage with the ability to upgrade if needed.
- Watch on two screens at once. You can upgrade to unlimited screens for $14.99 per month. This upgrade also gives you three screens while away from your home network.
- Comes with six customizable profiles
- Includes entire Hulu streaming library
Hulu Live TV supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. The price starts at $64.99 per month after a 1-week free trial. A long-term contract isn’t required and you can cancel any time. See our review of Hulu Live TV for full details.
#2 YouTube TV
Overall Score: 3.4
YouTube TV is just .05 points behind Hulu Live TV and was barely beat for the top spot. YouTube TV received a 5 out of 5 in channel lineup strength and DVR and received a 4 for its number of concurrent streams. It received a 3 out of 5 for its on-demand and channel lineup value. While it’s placed at #2, it’s really a coin flip between Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV for the best sport. Our rating factors On-Demand offerings highly, which is the main reason it’s number one. However, on channels alone, YouTube TV is clearly ahead of the competition.
YouTube TV’s Strong Channel offering includes AMC, BBC America, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land, Paramount Network, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, FS1, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, ACC Network, A&E, Bravo, E!, HGTV, TBS, USA, TNT, TruTV and more in the YouTube TV channel lineup.
- provides Local Network Channels
- unlimited cloud DVR storage
- stream on three devices at once
- Youtube TV supports Android, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and more. The YouTube TV app isn’t available on Roku. However, users can use YouTube TV through the YouTube app on Roku devices.
- Includes Youtube TV on-demand
- offers a 4K+ upgrade option for $19.99 per month that provides some 4K content, unlimited steams, and the ability to download some content for offline viewing.
All this comes with a price tag of $64.99 per month. YouTube TV supports Android, iOS (includes airplay to Apple TV), and Chromecasts/Chromecast-compatible TVs. YouTube TV offers a 1-week free trial. See our review of YouTube TV for more details.
Overall Score: 3.25
Price: $25 per month after a 1-week free trial.
Philo takes the number 3 spot on the list on the value channel lineup and its unlimited DVR, which received a 5 out of 5 in both categories. The service scored a 4 out of 5 in the number of simultaneous streams it provides. Philo scored an average of 3 out of 5 for its on-demand offering while netting a 2 out of 5 for the strength of its channel lineup. While Philo is an amazing value at just $25 per month for over 60 channels, it doesn’t have local network channels, cable news, or sports channels. Instead, Philo puts together a solid entertainment channel lineup with favorites like A&E, AMC, BET, Comedy Central, Discovery, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, TLC, MTV, and more in Philo’s channel lineup. Philo also provides the following features:
- unlimited cloud DVR storage
- stream on three devices at once
- on-demand for most channels
- support for iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more.
#4 DIRECTV Stream
Overall Score: 2.55
Price: DIRECTV Stream’s “Entertainment plan is $69.99 per month. DIRECTV Stream doesn’t advertise a free trial but provides a full refund if you cancel within 14 days of signing up.
DIRECTV Stream’s Entertainment plan channel lineup strength rivaled Hulu Live TV and received a 4 out of 5 in that measure. However, it’s a bit more expensive, which knocked its channel lineup value down to a 2 out of 5. The service received a score of 3 for its on-demand offering, 2 out of 5 for its DVR, and a perfect 5 for the number of devices you can stream on at once (an astounding 20 devices at once).
AT&T’s Entertainment Plan’s Channel Lineup includes Hallmark Channel, History, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land, Paramount Network, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, FS1, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, ACC Network, A&E, Bravo, E!, HGTV, TBS, USA, TNT, TruTV, and more. DIRECTV Stream is also the best way to get your markets regional sports network. However, those channels are part of DIRECTV Stream’s choice plan for $69.99 per month. DIRECTV Stream features include
- the ability to watch 20 streams simultaneously per subscription
- a cloud-based DVR
- many cable TV channels and local ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox
- multiple channel package options starting at $69.99 per month
- a 14 day full refund period
- supported on AppleTV, Android TV, Roku, Amazon FireTV, and more
Overall Score: 2.55
Price: fuboTV’s “Starter” plan is $64.99 per month after a 1-week free trial
FuboTV’s “Starter comes in at number 5, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a very well-rounded live TV streaming service. The service scored a 4 out of 5 for the number of streams and its cloud DVR. fuboTV received a 3 out of 5 for channel lineup strength and its on-demand offering. Its recent loss of A&E-owned channels dropped its channel strength down to a 2 out of 5. While the services come in at #5, it’s likely due to its array of sports channels which can be expensive for TV distributors to offer.
Sport is FuboTVs strength as it carries CBS, Fox, and NBC in every NFL market for watching your home team. They also cover NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 (Through the ESPN app), ESPNEWS, ESPN-U, FS1, FS2, SEC Network, ACC Network, BEIN Sports, BTN (Big Ten Network), PAC-12 Network, and more.
Here are some of fuboTV’s features:
- ABC, CBS, Fox, and ABC and more are available in fuboTV’s channel lineup
- You can watch on three screens at the same time
- 250 hours of cloud DVR storage
- The FuboTV app is available on major platforms, including AppleTV, AndroidTV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
fuboTV offers over 100 live channels at the cost of $64.99 per month, with upgraded plans available. You can test out the service with this 1-week free trial or check out our review of FuboTV for more details.
#6 Sling (Blue Package)
Overall Score: 2.5
Sling TV was one of the first live TV streaming services available. Our analysis finds Sling TV’s Blue channel package to score the best marks of the plans available through Sling. Sling Orange’s lack of multiple streams, along with poor channel lineup strength and value, drop the overall score below 1. Combining both Blue and Orange drags the overall value of the Sling Blue package down to 2.15, which would push it to last on the list. Therefore, if you want the best Sling TV package available, go with Sling Blue. The number of streams you get with the service and channel lineup value rated a 4 out of 5. Sling Blue received a 3 out of 5 for its DVR and 2 out of 5 for channel strength and on-demand.
That said Sling TV does offer flexibility with the wide variety of channel plans starting at $35 per month. Sling includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage and the option to stream to devices simultaneously. The service supports iOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, and more. Sling offers discounts when signing up. Check out our review of Sling TV for more information.
Overall Score: 2.25
Vidgo is a newer streaming service that provides decent value but really hurts itself due to the lack of a traditional cloud DVR. Instead, Vidgo has a 3-day playback on most channels. While better than nothing, that won’t keep everyone happy and forces us to score Vidgo a 1 out of 5 for DVR. Their on-demand offering is also a bit subpar with a 2 out of 5. However, Vidgo had decent scores in other measures. They scored a 4 out of 5 in number of streams and a 3 out of 5 in channel lineup value and channel lineup strength.
Vidgo provides local ABC and Fox in some markets, but it isn’t a complete solution for watching local networks. Other channels in Vidgo’s channel lineup include BET, CMT, Comedy Central, Discovery, Disney Channel, ESPN, FS1, HGTV, Hallmark, MTV, History, Paramount Network, TLC, Nick, and more.
Vidgo offers over 60 live channels at the cost of $55 per month, with upgraded plans available. The service supports iOS, Android, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Web browsers, and Chromecast. The price includes a cloud DVR and the ability to stream on 3 devices at once. Vidgo offers a 3-day free trial. See our review of Vidgo for more details on the service.
We didn’t include device support or audio and video capabilities in our rankings scores. Device support concerns will be different based on the devices you own, so we left that out of the score. We also didn’t include audio and video capabilities because there wasn’t much difference in capabilities from service to service. However, we did include some information below for you to compare independently of the rankings above.
Audio and Video Comparison
Below is a brief description of the audio and video capabilities of the live TV streaming services we ranked.
Hulu Live TV – Streams live TV at an HD video resolution of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. However, this is only on specific devices. See this page for details on Hulu’s video specification. Devices that can’t stream Hulu live at 1080p still stream in HD at 720p at 60 frames per second. Hulu supports 5.1 surround sound audio. Hulu on-demand can stream 4K on some titles but usually streams at 1080p.
YouTube TV – Streams on-demand and live TV at an HD video resolution of up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. Live TV on YouTube TV is available in 2.0 stereo but isn’t available in 5.1 surround sound. YouTube TV recently introduced a 4K+ add-on plan that provides support for some 4K video, however, that comes at an added cost.
Philo – Streams live TV in 720p, on-demand in 1080p, and audio in 2.0 stereo quality.
FuboTV – They are beta testing some live events in 4K, but it’s minimal. FuboTV’s live streams are typically at 720p resolution with audio in 2.0 stereo. On-demand streams in 1080p
Sling TV – Sling streams live TV at 720p HD in 2.0 stereo. On-demand content can stream up to 1080p on Sling.
Vidgo – Vidgo streams live TV at 720p HD in 2.0 stereo.
The table below shows the device support offered by each service.
|DIRECTV Stream||FuboTV||Hulu Live TV||Philo||Sling||YouTube TV|
|Amazon Fire TV||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Google Chromecast||✓||✓||✓||Android only||✓||✓|
|Samsung Smart TV||2017+||2016+||2016+||✗||2016+||2016+|
|VIZIO Smart TV||✗||✗||2016+||✗||Those with Cast support||Select SmartCast TVs|
|LG Smart TV||✗||2018+||WebOS 3.5+ (some 3.0)||✗||WebOS 3.0+||2016+|
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